February 17, 2021 Meeting Minutes

On February 17, 2021, the Santa Fe Stargazers met for their regular monthly Zoom meeting. The meeting convened at 7:00 PM. The business meeting began at 9:15 PM and ran until 10:30 PM.

The meeting began with a brief introduction of several new members. Following these introductions Jim Eagle presented the first trial of a new feature: The Monthly Sky Report. A second MSR (presented by Sam Finn) will begin the March meeting, at which time we’ll decide whether the feature will be continued.

The featured presentation, titled The Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram and Stellar Evolution, was given by Sam Finn. This presentation described how the observational properties of stars gave rise to the HR diagram, and how our understanding of the HR Diagram suggested and guided our early understanding of stellar evolution.

The combination of MSR and Featured Presentation ran us late, with the business meeting not commencing until 9:15 PM. Robert Powers reported that his Opinion article in Eldorado Living had been accepted, with Tony Bonanno providing an excellent picture of the summer Milky Way over an old Eldorado area windmill to accompany it. It is not yet known when the article will appear.

Albert Shultz then gave an update on the Jemez Mountain group’s efforts to address Los Alamos area lighting. The most important part of that update was the unexpected revelation that Santa Fe City was preparing to approve a contract to replace all of its street lamps with high correlated color temperature (CCT) lighting. The CCT change would be from 2200 K to either 3000 K or 4000 K. While the new fixtures would have greatly improved shielding, the increased color temperature would dramatically worsen the scattered light – worsening the Santa Fe City light dome to our north – and runs counter to recommendations from the American Medical Association (which has noted significant adverse health effects from street lighting at or above 3000 K), highway safety experts (who have long advised that lower temperature lighting produces much less roadway glare and has much greater penetrating ability through, e.g., dust and other suspended particulates), and recommendations of the US Naval Observatory, the National Optical Astronomical Observatory, the American Astronomical Association, and other professional organizations who are concerned with night time street lighting.

Following Albert’s alerting us to Santa Fe City’s imminent decision (scheduled for Wednesday, 24 February) there ensued an animated discussion of how we might react to slow the decision making process to allow for expert opinion to better inform the Mayor and City Councilors. From that discussion two different programs emerged: a rapid attempt to incite a letter-writing campaign to the Mayor and City Councilors, and a rapid attempt to write a guest editorial that might be induced to appear in the Sunday New Mexican. Sam Finn, working also with Save The Night Sky 285!, spearheaded the letter writing campaign, and Jim Baker the guest editorial effort.

[Unknown to us at the time, a straight news article on the imminent decision to approve the contract was scheduled to appear in the New Mexican Thursday AM. This article made many of the points that the guest editorial might have made. The draft editorial is currently being held back in anticipation of later use after the outcome of the February 24 Council Meeting is known. Also unknown to us, the New Mexican Editorial Board weighed in on Sunday with a strong advisement that the City reconsider the contract and refocus their attention on lower temperature lighting. The letter writing campaign succeeded in reaching several large groups, including the local Audubon Society Chapter and may have generated enough traffic so that, with the New Mexican Editorial Board statement, the decision will be postponed, which is the first step in getting the lighting CCT reconsidered.]

Our March meeting, featuring Peter Lipscomb, will take place on March 17, 2021.

This Zoom meeting was recorded: the full meeting can be (re)viewed at this link.

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